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Burial of Fire

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It wasn’t unusual for the boy to have free reign of Peter’s apartment…at least not any more. Once Stiles found out about Peter’s apartment—which was not a secret, Stiles—the younger male decided to make random visits whenever he was bored. At first, it was to keep an eye on Peter, just in case he was up to something, but after the first few times, the boy came voluntarily. Eventually, Peter gave Stiles an offer, one that was geared to benefit the high schooler while also giving Peter the ability to kill his curiosity about Stiles’ new-found spark.

After awakening from his near-comatose reaction after the nogistune was purged from his body, Stiles had found that he had manifested “superpowers” while he was possessed. After loads of research and even less hours of sleep, Stiles didn’t really have an answer. It was actually Peter who recognized what it was after Stiles had caused a power outage for his apartment building by flicking on the bathroom light. Turned out that the magical possession of the nogistune may have lit his otherwise dormant spark.

Warily, Stiles had agreed to let Peter tutor him, so to speak. The man wouldn’t say how he knew what Stiles was and how he was sure, but the only other option was Deaton and Stiles, for some reason he didn’t fully understand, didn’t want to share this new discovery with everyone, especially since they all still treated him with trepidation. Some days are worse than others and pack meetings were the tensest. The only person who didn’t walk on egg shells around Stiles for the past three months was Peter. Maybe that’s why he enjoyed their lessons so much…

Well, that was until Stiles may have set Peter’s coffee table on fire…and his rug…and his secret favorite recliner chair that he never sits in while Stiles is there. How Stiles figured that out is a different story. The point was that Stiles pulled a stiles and now his lessons with Peter went from practical to pretty much study hall. And after three weeks, seventeen days of reading and the silent ticking of the clock, Stiles was over it.

“Look, Peter. As much as I love free food and sometime awkward shoulder patting, I’m over all this reading. I don’t even put this much effort in my school work,” Stiles complained, flopping his head back on the couch he was sitting on.

An old tome was open on his lap. “Can we please go back to practical lessons? I promise I won’t set your new coffee table on fire this time.”

Peter, sitting on the other side of the couch with his own book in his hand, didn’t even bother looking up at Stiles as he replied, “No, Stiles. If we had started this way in the first place, you wouldn’t be saving up for that new recliner you still owe me.”

He turned the page. “Besides, I’m sure you’ll find a way to drown us all just by drinking from your water bottle. Not taking any chances with you.”

With a groan, Stiles closed the book and placed it on the iron and glass coffee table Peter now owned. He started packing his items into his backpack.

“Then I guess I’m going to have to end our little…whatever this is. I appreciate you letting me see your private collection of tomes, but I’m bored out of my fuckin’ mind. Plus, Scott said I was starting to smell like I rolled around in your bed, so I definitely need to find a new tutor.”

He shrugged his back onto one shoulder and headed towards the door backwards.

“I talked to Deaton and he’s willing to bring me on has his apprentice or whatever, so…yeah.”

And then he was gone.

Just like that, Stiles and Peter’s after school sessions were no more. They even started distancing themselves at pack meetings. Well, it was more like Peter distancing himself from the pack, but the point remains the same. Despite their distance, Peter watches Stiles intently whenever they shared the same space. It seemed as if the boy was even more tired than before. He always smelled of different herbs, mostly mugwort and wormwood. Peter was sure Deaton was giving Stiles exactly what he wanted as the air felt slightly energized at the last four pack meetings. What was also noticeable was the difference in the way the pack treated Stiles. The first meeting after Stiles sought out his new teacher, the pack surrounded Stiles as if things had never gone south five months ago. By the last meeting, however, the tension was definitely noticeable. It made Peter uncomfortable, but not for the same reasons everyone else was. Peter had frowned when he noticed. Sometimes, he hated to be right.

Peter gave Stiles time to crawl back to him for lessons again. He wasn’t trying to be cocky. He just knew that he wasn’t the only one who found Deaton’s “mysterious nature” annoying as hell. Though he was known for his own dramatics, Peter couldn’t stand when others wouldn’t just get the point. Though he was surprised Stiles lasted almost a month with the former emissary, Peter was grateful because that meant he could go out and bring home a friend…which he did.

Too bad that was the same night Stiles had decided to stop by.

Peter unlocked the door to his apartment, an “acquaintance” of his mouthing at his neck, only to catch a whiff of something familiar mixed with Mexican spices.

“What is that smell?” He asks aloud, pushing the door open to find a busy and comfortable Stiles moving around in his kitchen.

“It’s my famous chicken enchiladas. You’re in fo-“ He cuffs himself off after turning around to see that Peter was not alone. “Uh, is this a bad time?”

“No,” Peter said at the same time his “acquaintance” said, “yes.”

Stiles scratches the back of his head, unsure of what to do.

“I never expected you to bring home someone. Whenever I came over, you seemed like you never want company.”

“Correction: I never want your company. You flail around too much. It makes me wonder when you’re going to brain yourself and give Scott another reason to blame me for,” Peter said, taking on his jacket and hanging on the wall hooks just inside the apartment door.

He turns to take his guest’s coat, but the man tugs it closer to his body.

“Actually, Peter. I don’t think I’m going to stay. The smell of death is hard to get out of your clothes once it settles in.” He kisses Peter on the cheek, shoots Stiles a wary look, and leaves back out of the door.

“First of all,” Stiles starts, even though the man had already left. “I may not be Bobby Flay, but my cooking is delicious, okay.”

Peter raises his eyebrows in skepticism, but says “Sure, I believe you.”

He starts towards the kitchen. “So to whom do I owe his pleasure, and what can I do to get out of it?”

He crosses his arms as he watches Stiles crack the oven door open to check on his food.

“That, we can get to later.” He inhales the scent I his cooking culinary creation, eye close and a pleasurable smile spreading across his face. “My cooking smells amazing. I don’t know what that guy was talking about,” Stiles grumbled to himself, opening the door all of the way and turning to grab oven mitts.

“I can tell you what he meant by the comment,” Peter started. “But you have to tell me why you ruined a good time before it could even start.”

It was true, Peter had been enjoying himself prior to finding Stiles in his apartment. More importantly, he was really going to enjoy what was supposed to come next. Instead, he would have to settle for Stiles’ reasoning for his reappearance after nearly a month of avoidance. Though, if he were being quite honest, he already had an inkling for why the younger male was cooking an apology dinner. Still, he wanted to hear Stiles say it.

With a frown, Stiles agreed to Peter’s terms. “Fine. We’ll talk over dinner. Get the salad out of the fridge, would you.”

Peter’s eyebrows raised at the mention of the word “salad.” Stiles may not have had the worst diet, but he couldn’t remember when the boy willingly ate salad, unless it was in his futile attempts to get his father to eat healthier. Peter grabbed the chilled salad out of the fridge as well as two water bottles. He helped his guest set the small kitchen table.

“I’m surprised you made a salad. If I recall correctly, you tried—and failed—to pick out all of the vegetables from the shepard’s pie you all, but forced me to make, and store it in a napkin…which then fell on to your lap and left a huge grease stain you obviously still haven’ managed to get out based on the fact that you stopped wearing it.”

Stiles scowled around his bite of salad, half due to the taste of it and half due to Peter’s memory. He swallowed it down and quickly cut into his enchilada, hoping the cheesy, saucy goodness will take the grassy taste away.

“Deaton said that changing my diet will help me hone and control the power of my spark.” He raised the bite up to his mouth, but stopped when he felt Peter’s stare. “I’m taking a slower transition. Don’t want my body to go into shock.”

Peter gave him the infamous Hale eye roll before cutting his own enchiladas with a fork and knife, one classy step up from Stiles using the side of his fork like a saw.

“Speaking of Deaton…” Peter prompted, looking at Stiles expectantly.

Stiles tried to ignore the other man as if he hadn’t spoken, but after thirty seconds of silence, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He looked straight into Peter’s eyes.

“I can’t take it anymore. He’s worse than you are. Not only do I have to read, but most of the time, he uses me like I’m an unpaid intern. At first, I thought he was pulling some Mr. Miagi bullshit, especially with his little cryptic comments and evasive answers, but no, he just enjoyed the extra hands.”

He grabbed his water bottle and took a drink from it.

“Okay, but that doesn’t explain why I found you in my kitchen.”

Stiles shoved another bite of his food into his mouth, chewing slowly before swallowing. “I want you to teach me again.”

A slow, and somewhat dangerous, smile spread across Peters face. “Do you now?” He asked, smugness ringing loud and clear.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yes, and don’t act like you don’t miss my awesomeness. I know you enjoyed my learning as much as I do, if those creepy-and-couldn’t-seem-natural-because-it’s-YOU touches were anything to go by. Speaking of which, those end when I comeback. No more shoulder patting, no brushing a hand across my back, and no gripping the back of my neck, no matter how light. That ends now.”

Stiles had meant what he said, his tone coming a little sterner as he finished giving his demand. He didn’t want to admit the neck gripping was a slight turn on, a discovery bhe made thanks for Peter. Yeah, that definitely had to stop.

Peter’s smile transformed into a smirk, still a little too arrogant for Stiles’ liking, as he continued to eat his food.

“Well, the scent marking was for a reason, but we’ll get to that later. Any more demands?”

“Yes, we’re going back to practical lessons. I’ve done more reading than all four years of high school. I’m ready to go back. We can stay away from anything that has to do with fire.” He looked down as he said the last sentence, but then looked back up into Peter’s eyes as he spoke again. “So, do we have a deal?”

Peter pretended to think if over. He already knew that if he was going to take Stiles back that they would be doing practical lessons. He actually wanted to teach it more than before. Even though Stiles was working Deaton, Peter still kept his own studying sessions up, partly because he was curious and partly because he had already made arrangements for rare tomes to be delivered and he was not going to let them just collect dust. He knew Stiles was more in control, though he wasn’t sure if the boy knew it himself. The air wasn’t as erratically energized the way it used to be when Stiles entered a room. Instead it was like a steady charge, subtle and still. The pressure of the atmosphere felt similar to humidity, like the air was full, only it didn’t change the temperature.

“We have a deal.”

Peter stood up, collecting both his and Stiles’ empty plates and utensils before carrying them to the kitchen sink. He turned the water on and started to wash them, something that the two had used to do whenever they had dinner together during their lessons. Whoever didn’t cook had to do the dishes. Good thing Peter upgraded his kitchen this past month.

Stiles grabbed his water bottle and followed Peter, hopping up to sit on the kitchen island.

“Great. Now you can hold up your side of the other deal we made. What did that man mean by my enchiladas smelling like death? My cooking enhances your five senses. It doesn’t ruin your experience.”

Peter glanced back over his shoulder as he replied. “He wasn’t talking about your cooking. He was talking about you.”

“Me?” Stiles squawked.

“Yes, you. Everybody carries their own personal scent, you know that. Yours is just now tainted with a hint of death. You can thank your little spark for that one.”

He opened the dishwasher and placed the rinsed dishes on the racks before closing it again. Stiles didn’t even remember the man having a dishwasher. It must’ve been new. Peter grabbed a Tupperware container from one of the cabinets and began to pack away the leftovers.

“Are you saying my spark smells like death?” He honestly wasn’t sure how to feel about that. He definitely didn’t feel good.

“Hm, no. I don’t think death is the right name for it. It’s more like you smell like pain. When you became unpossessed, the nogistune left behind an awakened spark. He also left behind his mark…a scent mark. Even if you didn’t have the spark, your scent would still have a hint of pain lingering around it. I think James was smelling a mixture of us both. Death is my secret scent boost and you don’t have that smell.”

Peter grabbed the leftover salad and placed both containers into the fridge. Stiles could take them home if he’d like. Or Peter will keep them for a late night snack. It was quite delicious. He continued to speak.

“And when I say pain, I don’t mean it like you’re in pain. It’s more along the lines of pain will come to those who are near, something that sets off their instincts. People don’t like to stick around to find out if a scent's warning is true. I, on the other hand, know better, and the scent doesn’t really bother me. It’s a like a spicy cinnamon. I kind of like it.”

As Peter mused to himself, Stiles went back over the man’s words in his head. A light bulb went off.

“So that’s why the pack has been acting a little weird these past couple of meetings. Because it puts their instincts on high alert.”

“Yes.”

“But it only happens sometimes. For a good two and a half months, everything was fine, but it was only until recently that things went back to how they were in the beginning.” Stiles slightly shuddered at the memory of those first months after the nogistune was defeated.

“That’s because you stopped our lessons.”

“I don’t follow, not that that’s not normal when it comes to you.”

“You mentioned tonight that you’d like for my…scent marking to stop once our lessons start back up again. Did you not wonder why I, of all people, took the liberty of scent marking you before your left every time?” Peter asked.

It was mostly rhetorical, but Stiles still answered, cracking a half-assed joke.

“Because you enjoy taking advantage of the fact that I am touch-starved?”

Peter looked unamused. “My marking help cover up the scent left by the nogistune.”

“But you literally just said you smell like Death? How the hell is that any better?” Stiles argued back.

“When I came back from the dead, death is a scent the pack was forced to get used to and being that I smell like a Hale wolf, that also adds to it. Scott may be a true alpha in Beacon Hills, but this is still officially Hale territory. Our family magic continues to run through the land and our familial scent is weaved through the scent of pack. Your own scent of pack is tainted by the scent of pain. Everyone sees you as a pack member and wants to embrace you as normal, but the nogistune's mark puts their insticcts on high alert, even if they know what is causing it. My scent of pack, plus my scent as a Hale, can overpower the scent of the possession, even just for a short moment of time.” He gives Stiles a leering smile.

“So I guess you’ll want to change that little demand you made.”